Posted by: littletoe | July 9, 2007

One Holy Catholic Church?

Our RCIA class doesn’t meet this month, which is really frustrating since I want to get this “conversion show” on the road. I’ve been able to look on though, as others are progressing along the path at the Catholic Spitfire Grill . With one exception, it seems that we converts are experiencing the same liberal teaching. It appears to be a widespread problem. Thankfully, most of the people in this group are there because their own study has brought them, reluctantly and with many struggles, to the Catholic Church. They will figure out a way to get a good education. We’re discovering that the Catholic Church isn’t so “catholic” though. It seems if you don’t like the RCIA at your parish, you can find another class in the same diocese (!) that will be more to your liking. Here is a sampling of what one woman experienced:

This is what our RCIA director mentioned today, as his interpretation of
the reading from Isaiah. I’ve thought God was the Father, and God the
Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I’ve never heard about God our mother ,
which is what he talked about today. Is this TRUE? I’m so confused
these days after going to RCIA.

I’m having a really tough day today. Women priests came up again. The
most orthodox teacher of the group thinks it’s a good idea as well. So
now I have a priest that is for women priests & pro birth control….a
sponsor who is applying to be a deacon who also thinks all of these
things are good. And now the one RCIA person who I thought was orthodox
( my sponsor called him pre-Vatican II because he was so
conservative)….well even that guy thinks women priests are a good choice
.

I’m having a tough day even reading this! This stuff really pains me because she has children to raise. Here she gets the same faith-destroying drivel spewed in the Episcopal Church! God help her and her family.

In moments like this I wonder if we haven’t jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire. I would be tempted to despair if it were not for the promise that the Church would be guided by the Holy Spirit. Actually that’s not true, I have already been tempted to despair. It would be more accurate to say I have refused to despair because of that promise.

On a separate, but related issue I was reading a rant in someone’s blog about the music in many Novus Ordo masses. I really liked the music at our church probably because they had an awesome sound system. (How shallow am I?) There were guitars, a keyboard, drums and even a mandolin. They were obviously deeply involved in praise. It was one of the things that made that church so appealing. In fact, we haven’t visited another parish because we liked the atmosphere there so much. I even joined the praise and worship team and it now has a flute as well! It is reverent without being uptight.

So in this particular rant, written by an organist, he described the typical parish down to the most painful, embarrassing detail, as an example of how low the Catholic Church in America has sunk, how dumbed-down it has become. He could have been talking about our church! He felt that the Mass music in particular is so watered down theologically as to actually lead people into error. He argued that if you came to the sanctuary to pray 15 minutes before the mass started you would not be able to pray in peace. Instead you would hear the musicians and vocalists checking the sound system, cracking jokes and laughing. Guilty.

I have broad musical tastes and enjoy Gregorian chants, traditional hymns, and even African worship music. Even though David Haas and Marty Haugen aren’t my favorites, I have never really given the theology-in-music idea much thought. I think I need to ponder this music thing…

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Responses

  1. I share your frustration. As a Catholic school teacher, I encounter this quite frequently at diocesan meetings. However, unlike mainline Protestant churches, which are generally democratic, the Catholic Church doesn’t change just because 75% of Americans (or whatever) want it. Fortunately, the younger department chairpersons (I am the youngest in the diocese) are traditional.

    The reason the Episcopal church cracked in the 1970s is because its system of authority is democratic, and if you look at Anglicanism, it has changed with the times in every generation (there was worry during the American revolution that there wasn’t even ONE Anglican bishop that wasn’t a Deist). On the other hand, the generation of progressive Catholic dissenters from the 70s is just that, a generation of dissenters whose numbers are dying out (although sadly, they are still in charge in many places). Maybe it is my personality, but I would challenge my RCIA leaders or at least ask the right questions to show who is on the side of Magisterial teaching, and who is not. You may wish to even contact your bishop and share your frustration. Many bishops appointed by John Paul II and Benedict XVI are conservative, yet dealing with the fallout from the 1970s. You may find a sympathetic ear (I hope so!)

  2. I’m afraid my diocese is terribly liberal, too. I just keep my mouth shut. I think this is a problem that is endemic not only in religious circles, but in many areas of civic life. My goal is not to get cynical about this stuff. Perhaps it is a weary acceptance of human failings, with this liberalism being the latest in a long string of humanity’s shortcomings. I just know that what I learned as a Protestant–that Jesus is for us and not against us, that our Redeemer lives, and on, will keep me going through this process. I had an extremely short honeymoon with the Catholic Church, and maybe that is good. If I had built up some expectations like I had as a Protestant I might not have the staying power or conviction I do now.

  3. That’s why you have the Catechism. If you want to know what the Church teaches you can’t go wrong with that. All else you can do is grin and bare it and pray for these people. The Holy Spirit is obviously calling you to the Church. I was received a few years ago and had much the same RCIA experience.

  4. I’ve found that many ‘more traditional’ bloggers feel that use of the Haugen/Haas-y music in worship and liberal theology in RCIA programs are linked. I’m tending to agree with them. The teachers in my RCIA program were fairly conservative on the issues that were addressed, but I have a feeling there were sometimes issues that deliberately weren’t addressed because one or more of the RCIA team members disagreed with the Church’s position on them. (Like contraceptive use, for instance.)

    When I joined my current parish, we were singing about 50% Haugen/Haas-y music and 50% ‘more traditional’ stuff (nothing so traditional as Gregorian chant, but hymns written before 1900, at least). The music director keeps introducing ‘new pieces’ and we’re now lucky to get one hymn written before 1965 in any given week. I have to admit that I find it frustrating that with 1700 years of musical heritage to draw from, we usually sing three or four of a collection of forty or so ‘vanilla-theology’ songs written in the last 40 years at every. single. Mass. Except Christmas and Holy Week–we get a variety of music at Christmas and Holy Week.

    (I’m momto2inbowie on spitfiregrill, btw)

  5. It is definitely good idea to find as much orthodox catholic parish for your classes as you can in your diocese. After you will be recieved into Catholic Church find as soon as possible contact with Traditionalists, or ‘indult people’ and start to participate in ordinary rite worship (as stated in 7th july motu proprio). Otherwise you will experienced a lot of frustration, as other pious catholics do – we all turned to tradition for remedy in the end. You are on you way, and you need to find a proper pathway to enjoy the whole richness of Catholicism. God bless you and His Blessed Mother intercede for you.

  6. I haven’t started RCIA yet, and there aren’t any classes until the fall, but I know the RCIA director personally and just got done talking to my parish’s priest. I know Father to be very conservative and by-the-book, but I’m kinda worried about the other people in the RCIA class.
    If this upcoming class is anything like last year’s, there’s only going to be one or two being baptized (me included), and the rest are going to be confirmations. Those receiving confirmations last year were definitely younger than me (I’m 18), and it looks like they just missed the normal confirmation age by a year or two. So who knows what kind of discussions there will be!

    p.s. I added you to my blogroll. I love reading your blog.

  7. Vagranted,

    Good luck with your RCIA. I am taking the advice of some of my commenters and I will simply take a look at the Catechism and see how it lines up with what I’m being taught and go talk to someone I can trust when there are discrepancies. It sounds like you can talk to your parish priest if you need a heading check. Are you blogging about your conversion to the Catholic Church? If so, leave your url so I can return the favor and add you to my blogroll!

  8. My new one is at myanticipation.stblogs.com.
    I didn’t realize that you replied to my post.


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